30 July 2011

Polish winged hussar [54mm display figure]

My Polish 54mm Winged Hussar finished. Pretty fun to paint and a nice change of pace.

The Winged hussars were introduced into the Polish army with the election of the king Stephen Báthory from Hungary. This cavalry was almost as fast and agile as light cavalry but armored and armed as heavy cavalry. For 200 years they pretty much held the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth together, many victories attributed to this unit alone.

Their main tactics was to charge the enemy with lances, the formation was loose on the approach and casualties were as such low from the inaccurate muskets of those days. As they approached they closed ranks and rammed into the enemy, their lances were hollow and light weight which allowed them to be very long. Longer than most pikes, which also meant they hit the enemy before the enemy had a chance to hit them back.

The horses were a special breed of eastern horses which recovered their lost stamina quickly and were strong enough to allow for multiple charges in a single battle. This was also necessary when fighting the Tatars and light cavalry of the Ottoman empire. The wings on the back are debated, some say the sound of the wind rushing through the feathers made a fearsome noise, other sources claim they were mounted to make the rider appear taller and more intimidating. Recent studies show that it would be unlikely the hussars used their wings for anything else than ceremonial duties and parades since the wings apparently slowed down the horses during shooting of historical films. Whatever the cause of the wings was, they make the rider look unique and damn cool imo.

The Winged hussars had their most glorious hour in 1683, when the Ottoman empire had conquered all  lands up to Vienna and had laid siege to the city. The German Empire and thePolish-Lithuanian commonwealth, after much deliberation and intrigue from the Vatican and France, sent relief forces which arrived in a spectacular manner at the exact right moment when the city walls had been breached. Imagine Lord of the Rings - Two Towers, the charge with Gandalf at the very end. That is what the combined cavalry force of the German-Polish army was like, with the tip of the charge being led by the winged hussars. They smashed into the side of the Ottoman army and managed to rout it, saving the bacon of the valorous Vienna defenders not a second too soon. The map on the miniature base is depicting the besieged city of Vienna.

The hussars often had skins of exotic animals (most often leopard) adore their cuirass – veterans used bear or wolf pelts. The unit was also armed to the teeth. Besides wielding a lance they also had sabers, broadswords, warhammers, battle axes, bows, pistols and from 1680 and onward a carbine as well. Each hussar funded his own equipment, the crown funded the lances, of which several were used in each battle as the hussars would charge multiple times to break the enemy army, each time with a new lance.

The cavalry and winged hussars in particular are deeply rooted in Polish culture, the Polish 1st Armored division (the Black Brigade in exile) which fought in Normandy used a symbol depicting a winged hussar helmet and wing on their tanks.

There is an Italian-Polish project dating back a few years but it seems that it is getting close to actually becoming a movie, about the siege of Vienna.  More info about it here:

http://www.thenews.pl/1/11/Artykul/24740,Director-Skolimowski-to-play-Sobieski-in-new-historical-blockbuster

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1899285/

I hope it will be decent, because honestly, so far all movies involving the winged hussars have been poorly made ahistorical crap or pure fantasy.

9 comments:

  1. That is just wowsers, Love the Map on the base, Love the skin over the shoulder. This will certainly take pride of place wherever you put it.

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  2. Fantastic. nice change of pace as you stated. Love the map, you were correct, it works superbly.

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  3. You my friend Alexander should get some award for promoting Polish history! Thks for nice briefing- even I've learned some new things.

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  4. Thanks rempage, when it comes to historical stuff I really like to tell a bit of background info. But I do find Polish military history really interesting as it is often so different from "western" European history to the point of almost being exotic.

    Especially the part of history ranging from medieval times up to pretty much the Napoleonic era, you have absolutely crazy stuff. European crusades against Lithuania, fights against the Teutonic order, mongol invasions, battles against tatars and the Ottoman empire while at the same time fighting Swedes, Cossack uprisings, Germans and Russians. And it becomes an even greater contrast when you have the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth fighting different cultures of the West and the East during the same timeframe. The armies had a distinct almost snoblike affection for cavalry haha, everyone wanted to be a cavalryman so armies tended to be small and expensive. Didn't help with the "noble-democracy" where the nobility elected their king and pretty much held him hostage to their whims often bringing the country to the brink of destruction.

    You can easily get lost in the historical background of units and armies, I do my best to condense the information as much as possible. I do think people have enough initiative to go out and check up more information on something if it really caught their interest :-)

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  5. I know what you mean- Golden Liberty and liberum veto did contribute to commonwealth's decline. What is surprising: it's well known fact in Poland and thought in schools.
    By the way- I've heard that in Swedish museums you can find a lot of Polish trophies like banners,documents etc.from Polish-Swedish wars.
    PS. Hussar figure looks great.

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  6. They have some, I've visited the museum in Stockholm but it was a pretty poor collection I have to say. Just a few flags and nothing special to really make it worth the trip. Made me disappointed. Compared to the museums in Krakow they got nothing.

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  7. what are the colors u used for this model? i have the same kind but unfortunetly i dont have the painting guide and im kind of lost if u could just tell me what colors u use it wouls be greatly appreciated

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  8. Didn't have any painting guide with mine, but for the red I mostly used Scarlett Red mixed with Black. Then added more Scarlett red and finally Blood Red into the mix for the final layers.

    Leopard skin was painted with a bunch of mixed colors, Dheneb Stone, Bestial Brown,Gryphonne Sepia Wash are some of the colors I remember using. Pretty much mixed colors and added lighter tones until it looked right.

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